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Tips on writing a book for the first time

Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and download free character development worksheets! For more great writing advice, follow her on Twitter JessicaStrawser. What do writers really glean from these write-a-thons?

Hi, I’m Jeff. Can I send you something?

We asked the WD writing community, and responses came in waves—with refreshing honesty, admitted mistakes, tales of redemption, palpable pride, self-deprecating humor and, above all, contagious enthusiasm. Embrace a new mindset. After working five years on perfecting a novel, I sent out a round of queries, received some requests for the full manuscript, but ultimately was rejected every time.

I decided to shelve the manuscript and start a new book. That date was Oct.

  • Once you start writing, you will face self-doubt and overwhelm and a hundred other adversaries;
  • Establish a routine 13 Why a routine can help To maximize your chances of completing your first novel, it's a good idea to give some thought to how best apply yourself;
  • Be methodical and structured when writing your first novel Although you could try writing your first novel without an outline, plot outlines help;
  • Marie Millard, Rohnert Park, Calif.

For years friends had been trying to get me to participate in NaNoWriMo. That November was crazy busy: But writing is my dream. The results were amazing. I forced myself to write with a new mindset no editing, not even for misspellingsand the more I just let the words pour forth, the better my story became.

Writing your first novel: 10 starter tips for success

It was easier to keep track of plot and I was able to delve deeper into my characters because I was spending time with them daily. I ended that first 30 days surpassing 50,000 words, and, despite hosting two major family holidays among other commitments, I used that momentum to complete the first draft of my 90,000-word thriller by early January. That novel has since been revised numerous times and is currently being read by four literary agents at top agencies considering it for representation.

I had no idea in 2010 that so much would happen just because I embraced a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. My life has improved, as has my writing. What do you need to do to pursue your dream? Great advice on promoting yourself and your writing, as well as craft-based writing tips. Click here to get the issue now.

Before you jump in, think about it long and hard. Do you want to spend hours sitting in front of your computer? Do you want to have characters and plot twists swirling around in your head at every turn? Do you want the daunting task of placing the perfect words in each and every sentence?

Do you, at times, want to smash your head against your keyboard? Jocelyn Frentz, Calgary, Alberta, Canada 3. Daily or weekly word count goals help you track your progress toward your end-of-month goal, regardless of whether you average the same number of words every day. A rough draft of a draft? Then do the math. Plan to make sense. My advice is simple: Plan ahead and outline.

10 Ridiculously Simple Steps for Writing a Book

Andrew Setters, Cincinnati 5. Just start—and keep going. It looked like a text message. What the heck was it? I discovered the challenge just two days before Nov. I had no idea what I would write about, but I was determined to do it, just to see if I could. This was 2009, and my first time writing any length novel in any length of time, let alone 50,000 words in one month.

And now for something entirely different. I did finish that year, and went on to finish every year since. You never know what you can accomplish until you try. Everyone tackles the job in a different way, some with a meticulous plan or a detailed outline—but not me.

If you have an idea in mind, it helps. Otherwise, pick it out of the air and start writing. The key is to keep writing and let everything else fall by the wayside. Turn off your phone. And kick that persnickety editor out of your head. What you need right now is the story and nothing but the story, no matter how outlandish or unorganized.

I wrote a lot of junk, and stuff that had possibilities. What was in 2011 a 51,000-word story-in-the-rough has grown to a 71,000-word novel that will be on its way to an agent soon. Jenny Garden, Seattle tips on writing a book for the first time. Passion will get you started, but discipline will see you through. The only way to succeed is to set a schedule, write like mad and never stop, even if you despair. Get your first draft finished before you pay attention to your feelings, because—in the early stages—most of your feelings will steer you off tips on writing a book for the first time cliff like a GPS for lemmings.

The first words will rarely be your best, and the fear of bad writing often keeps writers from the initial click on the keys. But writing is like jumping into a cold lake: David McDonald, Jackson, Mich.

During my first two Novembers of novel writing, most of my time was spent cajoling characters instead of penning the daily words. At the end of a writing stint, stop before the ideas run out. Write a sentence or two about what happens next. Next time your fingers meet the keyboard, you already know where the story is headed.

Do what it takes to make it feel real. Fill the sandbox, then make castles. I worship at the altar of NaNoWriMo. So often this writing stuff can just feel pretend. It exists in solitude. Some of it exists only in my head. The only thing I have to show for years of work is a huge Word document. Sometimes when I do try to share it with people I feel crazy. So one gift of NaNoWriMo is its tangibility. There are pep talks. You watch your word count widget grow.

You share the experience with others. I have a NaNoWriMo poster hanging in the stairwell of my house. NaNoWriMo helps ideas become things. I wrote 10,084 words in one day. It made me feel like I could do anything. I managed to win that year, too.

Bask in the glory of victory. NaNoWriMo helps you fill the sandbox. Emily Echols, Fort Polk, La. Learn as you go. I had plenty of ideas, and many starts, but no completion. Then one day my 10-year-old daughter was given an assignment to write a 15,000-word novel for NaNoWriMo.

I was encouraging her, letting her know that she could accomplish anything if she set her mind to it, when I thought I should put my word count where my mouth is and join her.

There was no from-scratch pasta sauce that month. But I plodded ahead. I was surprised to find that my biggest challenge was finding my writing rhythm. I put on 10 pounds that month, but I wrote the story—all the way through to that ever-elusive ending. Sadly, there is no one-month path to publishing … NaNoPuMo, anyone?

After that first year, I convinced a friend to join me, so I would have a partner to meet and write with in the daylight hours, far from food temptations. If I can do it, so can you! It helps to have a general idea of your story and characters before you begin, but once the clock starts, get cracking! You can fix it when you sit down with a smile to read your completed draft a month later, red pen in one hand and giant latte in the other nonfat, of course.

Lebovic, North Barrington, Ill. My first finished book is thanks to NaNoWriMo. The experience was a whirlwind of creativity, as I was forced to put aside my Inner Critic and Grammar Nazi a rowdy bunch that like the last word.